.The Seattle Kraken will have quite a few big decisions for themselves at next month’s Expansion Draft. They won’t be the only team impacted by the draft, however, as 30 NHL teams will lose a player to Seattle. The Philadelphia Flyers are one of the teams that may be impacted more than others by the NHL Expansion Draft.
On Monday, we looked at how the Expansion Draft could weigh heavily on the Flyers in more ways than one. They’ll be losing a player to Seattle and it could also mark the start of a busy period of offseason activity.
The Flyers only have a handful of players that seem like realistic possibilities to be exposed and selected by the Kraken in the expansion draft. This week, we’ll go through them (alphabetically) and look at a variety of things around the player.
Next up is James van Riemsdyk, who seems to be the odds-on favorite to be selected by the Kraken.
Why the Seattle Kraken will select James van Riemsdyk
James van Riemsdyk will be one of the best forwards left unprotected for Seattle to select from in the Expansion Draft. He is coming off recording 43 points (17 goals, 26 assists) in 56 games for the underperforming Flyers. In a full 82-game season, that prorates out to nearly 25 goals (24.89) and 38 assists for 63 points.
Since re-joining the Flyers in the 2018 offseason, JVR has 131 points (63 goals, 68 assists) in 188 games –– an average of 27 goals and 29 assists for 56 points per 82 games. Those types of players don’t grow on trees, especially when teams get to protect seven forwards.
The analytics for James van Riemsdyk have also been pretty good as well. He had a Corsi-For Percentage of 52.95 (+2.06 Rel) in the 2019-20 season and 54.84 (+3.87 Rel) last season. It gets even better when you look at Expected Goals-For Percentage with 55.60 (+6.81 Rel) in the 2019-20 season and 53.21 (+3.81 Rel) last season.
Those analytics don’t even factor in his power-play prowess. He scored 10 power-play goals, tied for fifth-most in the league. Any team would be lucky to have JVR on their power play, especially an expansion team.
Why the Seattle Kraken won’t select James van Riemsdyk
Honestly, there aren’t a ton of reasons for Seattle to pass up on James van Riemsdyk.
What might cause Seattle some pause is JVR’s contract. He has a $7 million cap hit, which may be a bit high, but he only has two years left on his deal. He just turned 32 and will be 34 when his contract expires. James van Riemsdyk may not be scoring 25 goals a season then, but he’ll be a good power-play contributor as a third-liner at worst.
If there is no sweetener involved, Seattle should take James van Riemsdyk. They might not if they would rather go for a low-risk option or a puck-moving defenseman.
The impact on the Flyers if JVR gets selected
It almost lines up perfectly for the Flyers, as if they signed James van Riemsdyk to a five-year contract in 2018 with the Expansion Draft in mind.
They have the option to keep him (via protection or a side deal) if they want, or they can free up $7 million in cap space. I think they’d prefer to do the latter given how this offseason should go.
If Seattle does take JVR, the Flyers will use that $7 million to go after a defenseman. Whether it be one of the Predators (Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis), Seth Jones from Columbus, or the big-name free agent Dougie Hamilton, the Flyers need to address the blue line.
The Flyers will miss JVR’s consistency (in terms of putting up 20+ goals a season) and power-play potential, but the fit isn’t what it once was with the up-and-coming wingers (looking at you, Joel Farabee)
Will the Seattle Kraken select James van Riemsdyk?
Seattle would almost be doing the Flyers a favor by taking James van Riemsdyk. So, not taking him could be a 4D chess move by the Kraken. But I have to think it’s a strong possibility that JVR is in Kraken blue next season.
If I had to bet on it, I would say that Seattle will take JVR. To continue my percentage range, I’ll go with around a 50% chance that Seattle selects James van Riemsdyk.
Photo: Heather Barry Images